Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos

For what Hogan meant, it's the old story. For those who know golf, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible.



Golf World Readers Choice Awards Confirm That Alabamans Have Internet Access

At least based on the posting of the top 50 public courses of readers, I think it's safe to assume someone in Alabama did a lot of clicking at, as two Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail charmers top the list of reader favorites.

Here's the intro to the Golf World spread, with the private and resort listings still to come.


Here's A Guy I'm Not Rooting For...

...considering how tough college golf scholarships are to come by, anyone who plays one college event as a senior then turns pro, really is one selfish young man. Ryan Herrington reports.


"Who in their right mind would invest $50,000 in an organization that changes its CEO every year?"

No one every accused me of timeliness, but I finally got around to my October Golf Digest and their special money section. Each story had excellent points and you can access all of them here if you are behind on your reading like me. But considering yesterday's news from Winged Foot and the interesting state of club life in America in light of the financial crisis, each story has relevance, none moreso than this excerpt from Chris Millard's story was most entertaining, particularly this anecdote.

Fred Laughlin, who has long consulted with nonprofit groups on management issues, has recently begun working with the Club Managers Association of America on governance modeling for private clubs. His initial impressions of American private-club management and governance were not good. "Just awful," he says. "Mired barely in the 20th century." (See accompanying story by Davis Sezna.) How did we get here? Many of these clubs started because founders wanted to get together with friends. After a while the founders turned over management to boards, which in turn appointed presidents, who eventually hired GMs. "This happened over decades," says Laughlin. "Now we've got to a point where people are asking, 'Who's in charge?' "

It doesn't take a CFO to realize that there's something unsustainable about a 90,000-square-foot clubhouse in an age of dwindling enrollments. "A club needs to be run like a business," says Laughlin, adding that the top private clubs would rank among the top-10 percent of all businesses in the United States. Business-like thinking should extend, he says, to governance. "Who in their right mind would invest $50,000 in an organization that changes its CEO every year? Yet that's exactly what these members are doing and what these clubs are asking them to do."


Seve "Reacts Well" To Surgery

Lewine Mair files a thorough summary on Seve's biopsy-turned surgery, the latest on his morning recovery and his prospects for survival.


Judge Reduces Winged Foot East To 17-Holes

You think I'm kidding...Corey Kilgannon reports in the New York Times. But not to worry, The Donald is on the case.

Last week, a State Supreme Court judge in Westchester issued a temporary restraining order against the club, banning play on the sixth hole until further notice. Outings have been disrupted, as has competitive play among members at what has become, in effect, the most famous 17-hole championship golf course in the country.

“Everybody at Winged Foot is very surprised, and people want to fight it,” Mr. Trump said on Tuesday. “I’m very surprised something couldn’t have been worked out. To close a hole, it’s a sad day for the club. I’m thinking maybe I’ll visit the gentleman. I’d love to go and mediate it.”

Mr. Pecora has suffered $14,000 in damage to his home from errant golf balls, including five broken windows this year alone, said Julius Cohn, his lawyer. He said Mr. Pecora, who moved into the house in 2003, began complaining about the errant shots in 2006, when the club cut down several trees between his house and the sixth green.

Since they cut down the trees in 2006, my client has been getting bombarded with golf balls,” he said, adding that Mr. Pecora fears for the safety of his children, ages 6 and 11, who often play in the backyard. “He has golf balls raining down on his home — his children can’t even walk on the property.”
There's a lot I could say here, but I won't. Hopefully we'll learn more about this in the coming days.
The club spent $70,000 to plant three large trees in September, but Mr. Cohn said the club refused to put up a net protecting Mr. Pecora’s house. He said golfers routinely walk onto Mr. Pecora’s property to hit a ball back onto the course.
“He has pails and pails of golf balls,” he said, adding that Mr. Pecora’s 14-year-old dog ate a golf ball last year and required emergency surgery, costing $3,344.40.

Unfortunately, this statement just doesn't fly least in the eyes of the courts. Yet another reason why the technology issue has been on the minds of architects.
William O’Shaughnessy, who owns a pair of radio stations in New Rochelle, and is a member at Winged Foot, said, “If you buy a house on a golf course, you have to assume there may be a couple of errant shots that are going to land in your yard.”
“It’s part of the charm of living on one of the most famous golf courses in the world,” he said.

"The restrictions on square grooves will bring back the old days"

Ron Whitten covers a lot of ground in his "Shape of Courses to Come" feature in the November, 2008 Golf Digest.

I think this passage speaks to the rude awakening some of the folks at the USGA are in for:

Steve Smyers, a veteran architect and member of the Executive Committee of the USGA, believes new restrictions on square grooves in golf clubs, set to go into effect at pro tour events in 2010 and apply to all by 2024, will affect course architecture in positive ways, particularly for those designing courses intended to host championships. (And because most owners dream of owning a contender, that means most new courses.)
"The restrictions on square grooves will bring back the old days," Smyers says. "Elite players will be gearing back on their swings, and going back to golf balls that spin a little more, which will reduce their distance. I've always been an advocate of big, wide fairways, but I think fairways will get narrower. Light rough will again become an integral part of the game. Hitting the fairway will again become absolutely critical. It'll be position golf as opposed to power golf."
See, here's my question. How can you position yourself on a narrow fairway? Just a question!

And if someone can name one noted player who has said he will be gearing back his swing because of the new grooves, I'm offering a first edition, signed copy of Masters of the Links.


“I just like to keep going forward.”

Doug Ferguson talks to some of Seve's greatest American rivals and ends the piece with this anecdote:

Mark Garrod, the golf correspondent for PA Sports the last three decades, remembers Ballesteros hitting one shot so far right during the '93 European Masters that he was 3 feet away from a wall with a swimming pool on the other side. The situation looked hopeless until Ballesteros saw enough of a gap in the trees that he hit pitching wedge to the fringe, then chipped in for birdie.

Garrod later asked Ballesteros about the shot, and the response is worth remembering now.

“I just like to keep going forward.”


Titleist Returning To PGA Show; Large Men In White Teaching Shoes Will Once Again Roam The Floor!

Doug Ferguson reports the wonderful news, which frees me to end my PGA Show boycott as well...oh wait, you said it's still going to be in Orlando? Scratch that...

Titleist is returning to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Fla., for the first time in seven years. Titleist executive vice president Jerry Bellis said the return is due to the PGA shifting the show's emphasis to a more educational platform.

No manufacturer left behind!


"That means, on the apparel front, adidas will be working for Callaway in a licensee-licensor relationship."

The only reaction I had to the Taylor Made-buys-Ashworth news was that it probably made a John Ashworth-led revival of the company he started less likely, but as Robert Lohrer explains on the Styled-To-A-Tee blog, it adds to the bizarre world of Carlsbad corporate antics:

While both adidas and Ashworth are co-habitants of Carlsbad, Calif., it seemed that another giant golf company and Carlsbad mainstay, Callaway Golf, would be an ideal suitor for Ashworth. Callaway's apparel, said to be about a $60 million business at wholesale, has been successfully licensed for several seasons to Ashworth.

That means, on the apparel front, adidas will be working for Callaway in a licensee-licensor relationship.  Monday's deal, however, will likely mean that Callaway will have the right to review its contract.


"You'd think a middle-class kid who grew up on scruffy public courses might want to give something back to the game that has given him so much."

Had he asked, I could have warned Tiger that this would be the type of reaction he would get to his latest design venture. Then again, with an 8-figure design fee and seven oceanfront holes to play with, he might not care what anyone thinks!

From Alan Shipnuck's Hot List, which also gives Phil a nod for his Entourage appearance over Tiger's "cringe inducing" Today Show interview:

1. Tiger. He announced his third golf course design project, and once again it's an exclusive development for the mega-rich. You'd think a middle-class kid who grew up on scruffy public courses might want to give something back to the game that has given him so much.

You know, come to think of it, everything Tiger's doing now seems like the calculated image-enhancing stuff Phil used to do and the stuff Phil is doing now reminds me more of humorous image stuff Tiger did a few years ago.


Timberlake And The Tour

I continue to hear a lot of grumbling about the PGA Tour joining forces with Justin Timberlake to host to save this week's Las Vegas event and after everything we know about him I'm not really quite sure what the fuss is all about. He's one of the biggest stars in the world and a potentially huge aid in improving the game's image with people under the age of 30. Of course there will always be letters like this one Bob Carney posted at about putting "JT" on the cover (the reader probably thinking Bing and Glen were nightly churchgoers).

If you read Craig Bestrom's Digest interview with Timberlake, you'll find that's he very much in touch with what's going on in the game, he's passionate about playing and he really, really hates slow play. How can you not respect that?


Tiger at the 99 Cents Store!

I walked into the local 99 Cents store (hey, don't even think of knocking it until you try it) and was greeted by case-upon-case of Tiger Gatorade offered at .59 cents. Why do I think this is not a positive brand association? And is it obvious yet that there isn't much news to comment on?


Seve On Their Mind

Plenty of nice memories of Seve Ballesteros filed by writers contemplating his health predicament.

James Lawton writes the most evocative piece:

Yet in the crisis that has come to him these last few days, there has been at least a hint of a more philosophical and composed Ballesteros. The flood of affection that has poured into the hospital from all over the world has plainly been of comfort, reminded him, if he had forgotten somewhat in the darkest days of his divorce and the death of a girlfriend and the accumulated angst that life can bring in less dramatic circumstances, that he had indeed touched so many hearts with his extraordinary talent and, not least, his competitive cojones.

"I have always sympathised with those people who face illnesses. Therefore, I want to remind them that with bravery, faith, serenity, confidence and a lot of mental strength, we have to face any situation, no matter how difficult it is," he said.

Maybe it remains only to pray that this proves more than a noble epitaph to one of the most engaging, and thrilling, sportsmen who ever lived. Seve Ballesteros, at the worst of times, has always been full of life. Serenity? Perhaps not so much, but for this he has, no doubt, reached into the bag at precisely the right time.

Ron Sirak shares his thoughts and memories:
If Arnold Palmer gets credit for bringing the Open Championship back to major championship status by traveling to Britain in 1960 to play in it, Ballesteros gets at least equal credit for making the Ryder Cup relevant again and for expanding the borders of golf beyond the United States and Britain to Europe and eventually Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.
John Hopkins considers the magnitude of Seve's plight has hit Europe and in particular, golf fans in the U.K., as does Lewine Mair in the Telegraph.

Pete Jenson reports on the mood in Spain and quotes Seve's countrymen Garcia and Jimenez wishing him well.

Neil Squires delivers a few great Seve stories, including one from David Feherty.

Mike Aitken puts Seve's struggles into perspective.

Jeff Rude
(here) and Steve Elling (here) offer American perspectives.


Armchair Golf Blog Interview

Neil Sagebiel at the Armchair Golf Blog sends a few questions my way about the Ryder Cup, next year's majors and Tiger.


Weekends Just Got A Little More Dull: Golf Channel Lands Early Weekend PGA Tour Coverage

In the buried lede department, Jon Show and John Ourand report that Golf Channel is going to get 2 1/2 hours more of early PGA Tour coverage when CBS televises weekends

But this seemed like the better part of the deal for Golf Channel, especially for those of who don't want to clog up our DVR's with a tour event telecast:

Golf Channel can also replay all weekend coverage in prime time and package a highlight show that would air on Monday nights.


Expert: St. Andrews Doomed By 2050; It's OK, Tiger Will Have Already Played His Last Open Thanks To 65 Rule

This BBC report that an environmental expert in St Andrews has warned the year 2050 could see the Old Course crumble into the North Sea.

But just think of the waterfront views the Old Course Hotel will have.

The accompanying image ran with the BBC story. Thanks to reader Graham for this.


Phil Utters Obscenity; Street Cred Zooms!

Phil Mickelson's Entourage cameo included the use of the word "ass" (is that actually an obscenity?) and a performance that was, frankly, nuanced and subtle compared to the over-the-top mess turned in by former Oscar winner Martin Laundau (who appeared dressed to reprise the Mr. Havercamp role from Caddyshack).

So Phil's got that going for him.


"I thought I would have been itchy to get back..."

While Doug Ferguson analyzes the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour's various soft spots in light of the recent economic collapse, I think Tiger's answer in the Today Show interview to the question about getting away from the game is more disturbing.

Check out the video here.

He was asked if it has been good to get away and replied that he: "thought I would have been itchy to get back but after going through it I'm really not that itchy to get back," then cites the inability to rotate on his knee as the reason he doesn't have the itch.


"Los mejores deseos para el futuro, amigo."

Doctors have said Seve had a "partial epileptic fit" and are awaiting more test results. Meanwhile, John Huggan reflects on the great champion's career and like so many others, hopes for the best.

Hopefully that legendary desire to succeed, along with the good wishes of millions of golf fans around the globe, will be enough to sustain Ballesteros as he awaits the results of tests that may or may not confirm the presence of a brain tumour. Los mejores deseos para el futuro, amigo.


"But just a step lower, the market is vulnerable."

The Wall Street Journal's John Paul Newport says the news isn't all bad for golf. There are still a lot of rich people!

In North America alone, there are more than 40,000 families with investable assets of $30 million or more, according to the CapGemini/Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report, and approximately 300,000 U.S. taxpayers with reported annual incomes greater than $1 million, according to the IRS. Among them are many golf nuts. To say nothing of the huddled masses of superrich abroad.
New residential golf developments in the U.S. are few and far between, leading to a net standstill in golf-course openings generally. More courses closed than opened in both 2006 and 2007, according to the National Golf Foundation, a sharp contrast to the course-building boom that started in the 1990s.

Even top-drawer designers are feeling the pinch. "I've got quite a few projects in the U.S.," Mr. Nicklaus told me recently, "but they have all kind of slowed down or are on hold or are kind of waiting until the economy turns a little bit." Tom Doak, the celebrated designer of Pacific Dunes in Oregon and Cape Kidnappers in New Zealand, doesn't lack for work but in recent months has seen two of the courses he designed struggle: St. Andrews Beach in Australia is closed and for sale, and Beechtree in Maryland will shut down in December.

"The people I really worry about are the young designers and apprentices coming up, and the talented course superintendents and club pros who are suddenly out of a job," Mr. Doak said.
Now this is interesting...
For golfers still clinging to jobs, there is an upside. Less demand and more supply equals bargains. But even many seemingly successful clubs and golf communities aren't filled to capacity, which often means higher fees and assessments for members and, in some cases, extreme difficultly leaving without taking a bath.
Could this be the moment that private clubs in the U.S. start going semi-private like our friends in Scotland? Or will they go down in flames before taking a little outside play?

Meanwhile, there's still Tiger's project for the super wealthy, which prompted Newport's column. Now, those of us invited to the press conference launching Punta Brava were forbidden from asking personal life questions. Perhaps because he'd filled his quota for the month in this Today Show interview?